By Howard Pankratz
The Denver Post
The average sale price for a single-family detached home in metro Denver hit an all-time record of $371,650 in May, but zooming prices aren’t keeping buyers out of the market, Metrolist CEO Kirby Slunaker said Monday.
The previous record of $369,000 was hit in May 2007, seven months before the official start of the Great Recession.
“We essentially, after the recession, have come all the way back,” Slunaker said. “It has taken seven years.”
Active listings for single-family attached and detached homes were up 39 percent in May to 8,401, compared with 6,023 in May 2013, and up 15 percent from 7,323 in April.
Slunaker said buyers are quick to scoop up available homes. The average time from listing to contract dropped to 29 days in May from 44 days a year ago, and the average sale price for attached and detached homes of $333,955 compared with $308,983 last May.
Metrolist’s statistics include listings and sales in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, Jefferson and southern Weld counties.
“I”ve never seen it like this, ever,” said Jim Carroll, who has sold real estate for 30 years. He runs a Keller Williams Avenues brokerage in Wheat Ridge. “The biggest problem is the shortage of inventory. We have more buyers than sellers right now.”
It’s a seller’s market for any property under $400,000, Carroll said.
Homes priced at under $350,000 are snapped up within in a week. “If you have something under $250,000, it will be sold in two days at the most.”
Carroll said he listed a three-bedroom, one-bath brick ranch with a finished basement but no garage on Friday for $200,000. By Saturday, the Arvada home had eight offers.
“We sold it for $225,000,” said Carroll. “There is such a shortage of homes in that $200,000 to $250,000 price range .”
Slunaker said that the buyers include a fair number of investors with cash — “no mortgage, no anything, they just pop into the door and pay cash and grab it.”
He said large companies that have moved to the metro area in the last few years have contributed buyers to the market, which also has been boosted by the oil and gas business that has returned to the Front Range in a big way.
However, Carroll cautioned that “we are getting close to where people are paying too much.”
Slunaker noted that 7,228 homes went under contract in May, down from 7,759 in the period a year ago. There were 5,349 sold, compared with 5,827 last May.
“But the key thing is that the mean average sold price went from $308,983 to $333,955, which is up 8 percent,” he said.
Slunaker said there is some buyer anxiety in the new-construction market. “I think there are about 700 new construction homes right now being built. That is not much when you think about it,” he said. “In fact, I would say you have some portion of the market of people saying, ‘When are new homes going to pick up?’ ”
Builders have been slow, he said, because of the “nuclear winter of 2008-09, when they weren’t selling new homes at all.
“That was a tough lesson to learn,” he said.
Confluence Companies on Monday began to wade into for-sale residential construction from apartment building, announcing a new division — Clear Creek Homes — and plans for an eight-unit, green-built in-fill townhome project in Golden.
“A normal, healthy market is about six months’ supply,” said Clear Creek Homes principal Tony De-Simone. “Now, we’re at about two months. That convinced us to get in.”
For-sale demand is high in Golden. DeSimone said people have moved to the area wanting to buy, but new construction permits in the city are limited to 1 percent of existing housing stock.
The company expects to begin delivering the two-bedroom, two-bath 8th Street Residences, which start in the low $500,000s, next summer.
“A lot of people waited on the sidelines while the economy was bad,” said DeSimone, who worked for six years at the production builder Toll Brothers. “It surprised people how quickly the houses that were available were absorbed.”